Absolut’s NFT campaign bridges reality with online experiences

During the Milan design week, the Absolut team in Italy revealed an exclusive NFT collection with the iconic design brand Seletti. The digital artworks illustrate different design lamps inspired by the World of Cocktail campaign. We chatted with Letizia Invernizzi, Brand Manager for Absolut in Italy, to hear more about the project.

What is the story behind Absolut’s latest NFT campaign with Seletti?

– The collaboration between Seletti and Absolut paved a new way to reaching a perhaps more tech-savvy community. NFTs are an exciting concept bridging the online and real-world as you create a “phygital” experience. Also, Seletti, an iconic design brand, shares the same DNA as us at Absolut. Both of us are revolutionary companies that use color as a tool for self-expression, are enablers of change, and are firm believers in the power of human interaction, diversity, and inclusivity. Also, Seletti had already entered the NFT world, so they felt like a trusted partner in this type of project.

How did you come up with the design of the NFT?

– We took inspiration from The World of Absolut Cocktails video launched here in Italy that is part of the Global Born To Mix campaign. Seletti used the vibes from the video to create the design of each NFT. The items are a mix of the iconic shape of the Absolut bottle and Seletti’s products’ inclusive design. Also, each NFT bought is associated with a physical lamp in white ceramic composed of two separate items, a lamp shade and Seletti’s re-interpretation of the iconic Absolut bottle. There are four different rarities of NFTs, each of which has a physical design lamp associated in terms of colors and naming: Espresso Martini, Tonic, Mule & Born To Mix.

The collaboration between Seletti and Absolut paved a new way to reaching a perhaps more tech-savvy community

Tell us more about the NFT launch.

– We revealed the design lamps associated to the NFTs during Milan Design Week in mid-April at Seletti’s showroom to key stakeholders, content creators, and media. The NFTs are 3D videos showing the lamps in different environments inspired by The World of Absolut Cocktails video. There are 2.500 pieces available with four levels of rarity – one of which is extremely limited. They cost about 600 euros each, depending on Ethereum value fluctuations, and they are based on the average price of Seletti’s design items with an added value for the unique NFT Collectible. It’s available on our custom-made Web 3.0 platform, where you can buy the NFTs.

What response have you received so far, and will we see similar projects by Absolut in the future?

– It’s been received really well, and many have been impressed by our work. We have also received a lot of positive media coverage after the Milan reveal, which is also a plus. Still, it’s a pilot project that will be evaluated afterwards. This project has enabled Absolut to create a new type of experience that can engage and reach new and younger audiences. Hopefully, we can do similar drops in the future.

Will more outlets in the drink industry jump into the NFT scene?

Indeed, the NFT world is rapidly growing and catching the eye of consumers, even those who were skeptical one year ago. So, I believe many brands, from the Spirits industry and other industries, will decide to enter the Web 3.0 world to engage their consumers with new “phygital” experiences.

What advice would you give a company that has yet to enter the NFT world but are eager to do so?

It’s still quite a new world, so brands must keep learning every day and adapt their strategies and plans accordingly; what could have been a great NFT project a couple of months before may need to be adjusted and reworked according to newer data and trends. Still, not many brands have entered the NFT world yet, and those who have can be seen as pioneers. That is why most NFT projects are pilots, and we have to learn from them to encourage and inspire others to engage in this new world of content and currencies.

Pernod Ricard innovation hubs: Finding the perfect taste

Pernod Ricard’s innovation hubs constantly work with insights to better understand what makes today’s consumers tick. They also work behind the scenes to create new and exciting products and product ranges like Absolut Sensation and Absolut Smoky Piña. We talked to Adrienne Barrett, Innovation Hub Director EMEA LATAM at Pernod Ricard, to learn more about all the work to find the perfect taste.

How do you work with insights and trend forecasting?

– To begin with, you need to be curious and understand consumer behaviors, which are constantly changing rapidly. Also, it’s important to create solutions that can solve problems and add actual value for our brands and businesses. That’s why we’ve created the innovation hubs – to serve as a springboard for new ideas and help us pursue creative solutions for our brands. With the help of our strong portfolio, we have found new opportunities to deliver new and exciting products.

How do you come up with new flavors and products?

– We look into different aspects of lifestyle, culture, and consumer behavior to create different taste profiles. Some flavors are designed to be attractive for specific local markets, but on the whole, we’re looking for ideas that appeal to a regional or global consumer audience. Also, we see that consumers are looking for different drinks for different occasions. For example, our research tells us in the late afternoon and early evening occasions, many consumers are looking for a drink that tastes great, is full of flavor but has less alcohol. That’s why we just launched our new flavor range, Absolut Sensations, which is a lower alcohol option than its current range of flavored vodka – 20 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) compared to the current 38-40 percent ABV but has a really delicious Tropical Fruit flavor with a hint of Szechuan pepper.

What flavors are trendy right now?

– I think Absolut Sensation is a good example of how we’ve picked up on a consumer desire to indulge with a more refreshing and fruitier palette. Our Absolut Sensations contains tropical fruit, a trending flavor, and Szechuan pepper, which offers a delicious taste with a subtle twist to make it even more exciting. We also see that berries are getting more popular, a flavor that many people worldwide can easily relate to and enjoy. That’s why The Absolut portfolio & innovation team just launched Absolut Wild Berri with a taste of freshly picked blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Consumers are also constantly looking for new, interesting, exciting flavor experiences. New Absolut Smoky Piña is an excellent example of a bold product tapping into local Mexican culture. The taste is inspired by chargrilled pineapple, which gives a complex but intense flavor experience. It’s also smoky, sweet, fruity and has some hints of chili at the end. When you drink it as a chilled shot, it’s perfect for a night out with your friends when you want to switch up the energy and share a great drink experience.

Taking the driver’s seat in European food export

Sweden has the EU presidency until the 30th of June, which means that the Nordic country will lead and coordinates the work of the Council of Ministers during that time. One of the topics on the agenda is the Union’s strategy and regulations regarding food export. We chatted with Jimmy Sandell, Head of Communications and Business Policy at the Swedish Food Federation, to discuss the EU presidency, the challenges for Swedish food export, and which products that have a bright future.

What questions will the Swedish Food Federation pursue the most now that your country has the EU presidency until the end of June?

– We want to improve the competitiveness of European companies and the ability to supply food within the EU by creating better conditions so that we get more viable and robust businesses. Hopefully, the EU’s current policy reforms will be implemented in a way that is beneficial for many companies. Also, we would like to urge for more free movement in the internal market and increased free trade. The last few years have shown that we need more trade channels to stand firm in crises.

Which food-related topics create the most engagement and debate in the EU?

– Creating a robust and sustainable food system is an overall theme that has dominated the EU debate in recent years. A large part of the sustainability agenda has focused on food labeling. It includes discussions on how big an impact labeling generally has on consumers’ choices in the grocery store and how to design regulations for more information on food packaging. For example, how a future front-of-pack nutrition label should look like has proved to be a divisive issue among EU Member States.

Do you see any challenges with current EU regulations?

– There are many challenges that need to be addressed. For example, the regulation of health claims on food is pretty concerning. The Union’s strict rules make it difficult for companies to communicate public health. The aim to avoid inappropriate and misleading marketing is well-intended, but it has been taken way too far. For example, you can only mention that you have reduced the amount of sugar or salt in a product if you cut the levels by impossibly large amounts.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to strengthening Swedish food exports?

– We, as a nation, do not see ourselves as food exporters, which is a problem in itself. There is a massive difference in the self-image compared to other small but successful food-exporting countries such as Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. Swedish food and drink production and exports should be much more prominent on our agenda, which our government finally has agreed on and they are now re-examining the national food strategy. Still, the future for Swedish food export looks very bright, as we are on our way to reaching our goal of 100 billion SEK in export value for 2025. The Swedish food sector has enormous potential, and we have all the right conditions to become a global leader in producing sustainable food.

the future for Swedish food export looks very bright, as we are on our way to reaching our goal of 100 billion SEK in export value for 2025

Which industries have a positive export market right now and which are having a tough time?

– The Chief Economist at Swedish Food Federation usually says that everything you drink has a future. We believe that all beverage products with high process value are on the rise and have a lot of export potential. However, the premium segment is in decline in favor of the current economic state and the demand for low prices. 

Which foods may become more attractive to import from, for example, Sweden in the future?

– Sweden is a world leader in oats and is currently investing heavily in the category at the moment. It’s a product that, historically, has had its added value end up outside of Sweden but is about to change, which we are very optimistic about.

How The Absolut Company can contribute to Sweden as a food and drinks destination

The EU presidency belongs to Sweden until the middle of the summer this year, which is a big opportunity for Swedish companies to advocate export promotion. We talked with Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Affairs & Communications at The Absolut Company, on how Absolut can drive Swedish beverage export forward and help establish Sweden as an international destination for food and drinks.

How is it that Absolut Vodka has become Sweden’s largest food exporter?

– We launched a Swedish quality product that redefined the vodka category at its time and built a strong brand with Absolut. Our product is perfect for mixing and has the same quality everywhere worldwide, thanks to coming from one source, ie, Åhus in Sweden. We also have a long-term approach to sustainability. We minimize our carbon dioxide emissions and aim to have a carbon-neutral product by 2030. Adding to that, one could also argue that the brand exports typical Swedish values, spreading our inclusive and optimistic mindset to people worldwide. For example, our campaign, Born to Mix, highlights our mission to inspire people of all backgrounds to mix together.

What issue do you at The Absolut Company want to highlight the most now that Sweden has the presidency of the EU?

– Overall, the Swedish presidency has a similar approach as ours to improving the conditions for business in the EU. The Absolut Company is all for the green transition, including initiatives and legislative changes that aim to reduce emissions. When introducing new legislation on the packaging, it’s also important to keep solutions that work, for example, the Swedish recycling system. We also welcome standard labeling solutions that work across all markets in the EU. Also, we would like to see free trade agreements with more countries to reduce tariffs and to enable growth beyond a few big markets. 

We minimize our carbon dioxide emissions and aim to have a carbon-neutral product by 2030

Can you describe the importance of the beverage industry within the EU and the potential for Sweden in this export category?

– Drinks are the largest food export category out of the EU thanks to alcoholic beverages, representing high-value creation. Swedish export of alcoholic beverages is around 9 percent of total food exports, compared to around 18 percent for the EU. Sweden has the potential to grow its share if we can improve the conditions for all new wine, beer, cider, and spirits producers and better showcase what we offer as a country.

How much responsibility does Absolut Vodka have in driving Swedish food export forward?

– Successful companies can always inspire others by sharing their story. The Absolut Company must continue sharing our knowledge and build a network with other companies. We can take a role in tackling common industry challenges. We can also contribute to establishing Sweden as a gastronomic destination by sharing our local food and drink traditions when inviting international partners and consumers to Absolut Home. Another example is our platform, Tomorrows Table, where we highlight the value we create as an industry with other producers and share their stories.

Be an Absolut Ally: The campaign that guides to increased inclusiveness

Absolut in India has started a new campaign called Be an Absolut Ally to create a more inclusive environment and promote positive change. Ten individuals from the Indian LGBTQIA+ community share their personal experiences on varied topics and highlight the simple ways to make more conscious communication in this digitally focused initiative. We talked to Bikram Bindra, Creative Content Manager at The Absolut Company in India, where he explained the campaign’s main purpose, the partnership with bartending collective Mister Bartender & The Crew, and the opportunities vodka presents in a whisky-dominated market.

What is the purpose behind creating the Be an Absolut Ally Campaign?

Despite changes in Indian law and increased diversity representation in media, our research told us that the needle had not moved much on the societal and familial front for the LGBTQIA+ community in India. Attitudes towards the community are still problematic, and the onus of education often lies solely with the LGBTQIA+ individual. To truly inspire meaningful change, we decided to do something that enables well-meaning but ill-equipped potential allies to become more open, inclusive, and safer for their queer counterparts. Also, brands are often accused of co-opting narratives, and we were clear that we want our collaborators to be in charge of their own stories and tell them through their own unique perspectives.

We hope to inspire conversations that help us create a more open world.

What do you hope to achieve?

We hope to inspire conversations that help us create a more open world. The idea behind our 10-part Absolut Playbook is not to be preachy or talk down to anyone but to inspire empathy and relatability. We want to urge people to find better ways of engagement and communication. That’s why we want to give some tips on how to talk in a light, easy and authentic manner. Sometimes, a small gesture or conversation can create anxiety and unwanted discomfort, and at the same time, the same small act could also inspire confidence and reassurance. We want our audience to know that showing up as an ally requires work and effort, but there are simple ways to start and make a difference.

Can you tell us one or two of the most powerful stories from the campaign?

It’s tough to choose because we worked with such an eclectic bunch of individuals representing various parts of the gender and sexuality spectrum, different parts of the country, and even smaller towns in India. There are many powerful stories, but if I had to choose one, I would talk about Anjali Lama, who was born into a farming family in a small village in Nepal and has a tough journey of self-exploration. Through her hard work and commitment, she not only became the first transgender model ever to walk the Indian ramp but has since then also made her New York Fashion Week debut and even starred in a Hollywood film.

Please tell us more about your partnership with Mister Bartender & The Crew.

Mister Bartender & The Crew is India’s first bartender academy empowering women and trans folx to find more acceptance behind the bar counter. Our goal with this partnership is to take our idea of creating more safe spaces for the community in an ecosystem where we can influence our trade partners. Through this partnership, we run training and sensitization workshops with bar staff to encourage more conscious and inclusive conduct and communication. Our goal for the first is to target 100 bars and clubs, and this plan is currently underway. So far, community members and our sales and trade partners are optimistic and excited about the initiative.

What do the collaborators think of the initiative?

The collaborators have been vital and are co-creators of our campaign. They loved the platform, which enabled them to tell their praised stories in their own way. We believe the videos have imparted a sense of intimacy and warmth, which we hope can continue to get shared and inspire conversations.

How has the campaign been received by the public in India?

The response has been highly encouraging and positive. It is seen almost as an educational series but presented in an uplifting and non-intimidating manner. Our core cohort of progressive connectors has also really applauded the idea of teaching allyship through real-life examples and found the authentic storytelling style enjoyable and engaging.

What type of impact and opportunity does Absolut have in India?

India is a whiskey-drinking nation, but the Absolut brand has become iconic in recent years. We have grown by double digits and remain a market leader in our category. With young people searching for high-energy experiences post the pandemic, we have identified possibilities to take more shares in the Indian nightlife and cocktail scene. Also, we will continue our work in creating a more open world with initiatives like the Absolut Ally campaign. However, building emotional equity with our consumers and making a real impact is essential for the Absolut brand.

Contemporary vibes in Korea

In Korea, making an impact is all about having the perfect mix of legacy and contemporary flare. Content is king and if you deliver interesting opportunities, people will que up for the occasions. That’s very much what happened when the Absolut team opened an artistic pop-up called the Absolut Home, in an old factory in Seoul. We had a chat with Dam Bi Lee, Brand Manager for Absolut Vodka in Korea, on her view of the successful activation.

What did you do with Absolut Home in Korea?

The Absolut Home was a pop-up in Seoul that was open for a month. It was a collaborative space where two rising Korean artists showcased their work. The response from the visitors was overwhelming. We had more than 15 000 people showing up and at times there was actually even a line to get in. To me, that was a true testimony on how much Koreans love the Absolut brand. I’d say that the Absolut Home pop-up was one of the most trendy ones in Korea in 2022.

We had more than 15 000 people showing up and at times there was actually even a line to get in. To me, that was a true testimony on how much Koreans love the Absolut brand.

What kind of art was on display at the venue?

In the Livingroom of the pop-up, we had works by Yoyojin, who’s famous for doing elaborate drawings. He did some drawings based on Absolut-themes, but in his own style. Yeojun Yoon was another artist we collaborated with. He decorated the game room of the pop-up with graphic neon signs. His artwork is now in one of the biggest clubs in Seoul, center of Korea. Both artists are great representations of modern Korea.

Yeojun Yoon

What are the biggest drinking trends in Korea now?

I know that there’s a global trend towards an increase in consumption of low ABV-drinks (alcohol by volume). But Korea is different. Here, it’s actually the opposite. Whiskey, gin, and tequila is growing but Absolut vodka is still no 1 in the vodka category. Koreans love Absolut, and the Korean team had done an amazing job. We’re doing all we can to increase the brand’s market share and awareness.

What distinguishes the Korean market compared to other Asian markets?

Key is that we do have a lot of good content. K-pop and K-drama. Most Koreans are passionate about great content. This pop-up is based on this insight, to use an exhibition to deliver our key messages in an experimental and interesting way. Korean consumers seek these kinds of activations. The Absolut home pop-up location was also chosen specifically in a neighborhood known for its artistic residents. The actual venue is an old factory that’s been transformed to an artist building and I’d say just about every Korean knows or has heard of the S-factory. It’s very famous for hosting interesting exhibitions – a perfect match for Absolut.

Ready-to…Go to market

The convenience segment is beating any other category in alcoholic beverages in terms of growth. The pandemic has spiked an interest in premixed cocktails and long drinks, ready-to-drink straight out of the fridge. We chatted with Fredrik Syrén, Global Managing Director RTD & Convenience at Pernod Ricard, on the latest developments of the category and what we can expect from his team in the future.

Since last year, you’ve been heading the global Pernod Ricard RTD & Convenience Business Unit. What’s that been like?

It’s been a very exciting year. I like the challenge of building a new business leg quite different from everything else we do at Pernod Ricard. This venture is a good example of how the entire group is transforming and how our will to always be consumer-centric and data-driven impacts how we do business. Today, consumers want cocktails in convenient formats without compromising on quality, and we need to embrace this and adapt our portfolio. This first year has been a lot about setting up the team – we are now more than 30 people from 9 nationalities in 6 locations worldwide. A team that is now fully onboarded, operational and ready-to-deliver!

How did you prioritize which brands in the Pernod Ricard portfolio to develop?

Our starting point was to leverage our most global brands. The name of the convenience game is scale, so we selected a few strategic international brands and specialty brands with international potential to begin with. We built a global portfolio strategy, working across the brands and making sure they complement each other in the different consumer needs and occasions. We have been working closely on this strategy with all the brand companies and key markets: it’s all being done in a very collaborative spirit.

The convenience category is much faster moving than spirits, so we’ve had to change our ways of working. We want to go faster, to be more agile, and it’s a challenge to drive this kind of ambition in an integrated way while keeping the speed up.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Working with markets is always exciting, and our model is to build a global strategy with local execution. That means that, within that strategy, the markets can pick and choose what is most relevant to their local consumers, depending on their specific needs. It allows us to scale-up fast while keeping much-needed local relevance. However, change is never easy, and moving from plan to implementation isn’t always a smooth ride. The convenience category is much faster moving than spirits, so we’ve had to change our ways of working. We want to go faster, to be more agile, and it’s a challenge to drive this kind of ambition in an integrated way while keeping the speed up. That’s why we have set up our team to be as agile as possible end-to-end. And of course, the team is working hand in hand with the larger RTD ecosystem within brand companies, markets, and regions every step of the way.

How has the convenience segment developed during the last couple of years?

The category showed steady growth already before the pandemic. But lockdowns and restrictions worked as an accelerator. When consumers realized that they had to spend more time at home, learning how to create long drinks and cocktails became a good pass time. This meant that growth spiked during the pandemic but has slowed down a bit. However, RTD is still the fastest-growing segment – faster than beer, spirits, and wine. The cocktails and long drinks RTD segment in particular is expected to grow by 13 percent per year in the next five years.

Which are the biggest trends when it comes to RTDs?

The maturity of the markets differentiates the trends. In the US, hard seltzer has been going strong for a few years, but we are now seeing a clear shift toward long drinks and cocktails. For example, we’ve seen over +50% growth in volume for our Absolut and Malibu cocktail ranges over the last 6 months. The Asian market is younger and less mature, with FABs (Flavored Alcoholic Beverages) preferred. They also have a greater affinity for local brands. In Europe, there is a strong trend to consume long drinks, meaning a spirit base and one mixer (soda, lemonade…). When it comes to flavors, the taste is less fragmented. There are a few Asian markets with different preferences, but beyond that, citrus, berries, and tropical flavors work pretty much everywhere.

What does this growth mean for Pernod Ricard in terms of expanding business?

Our portfolio includes many premium brands that are perfectly fit to be consumed as cocktails and long drinks. Hence, we’re going to great lengths to make consumers aware of all the great drinks they can make with our brands. Consumers are looking for more flavorful, fruitier, and refreshing RTDs but are also very attentive to product quality. Craft and “premiumness” are king in that sense, and – given that we already have both premium and craft in our portfolio – I see great potential in extending our range. It’s also vital to ensure we deliver convenient products of the highest possible quality since it’s a great way to introduce consumers to our brands. We can’t afford to disappoint consumers if we want to achieve loyalty.

Meet The Absolut Company’s archivist Lovisa Severin Kragerud

Behind every successful company, you will find a person that’s safeguarding all the inherit stories and makes sure they’re told as they happened. Lovisa Severin Kragerud is surley one of these storykeepers, working as Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller at The Absolut Company. She calls herself “the history hub” and is constantly searching for information gems in old hard drives. We chatted with her on what to expect from the upcoming LinkedIn series “Did you know?” where she will share anecdotes from The Absolut Company’s past.

What does a Corporate Archivist & Chief Storyteller at The Absolut Company actually do?

I’m like a historic hub and go-to person for my co-workers who seeks forgotten content. Jokes aside, people come to me when searching for old material that they can reuse or that might work as inspiration for upcoming campaigns or different communications activities. I’m also using the material for my archive geek-series which contains fun anecdotes that are shared internally. But the most fun part is that I can dig deep and find really old information from the 1800s. For example, letters, business cards, and memoirs from our founder LO Smith.

What does a typical day at work look like?

Ideally, I’m in my bottle archive sorting through a complete collection of all the Absolut bottles, including all versions and all labels. But otherwise, I support various project groups as a historical consultant with a lot of research for inspirative and informative purposes.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s finding gaps in the archives where things or stories might have disappeared over the years. Surprisingly, the 21st century is the most challenging period to find information on. It was a time when we started to digitize all our content, and some hard drives got lost. But our IT department just contacted me and said they found a couple of lost hard drives that I will look into in the next couple of weeks. Like many other companies, our archive will never be completed. It’s like a living organism that will constantly be supplemented and replenished. I am the first archivist at The Absolut Company here in Sweden, and I’ve only worked here for around five years, so it has been – and will be – a challenge to continuously discover and share exciting stories from the past.

We actually have an archive with 400 pieces of clothing from designers like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, and Versace. It also includes garments from Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano, Helmut Lang, Alaïa, and others.

Do you have a favorite period in Absolut’s history?

I have a little crush on our campaigns between 1981-2005, especially Absolut’s city ads. Also, I enjoy looking at Absolut’s Fashion campaign that was rolled out between 1988-2006. We actually have an archive with 400 pieces of clothing from designers like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, and Versace. It also includes garments from Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano, Helmut Lang, Alaïa, and others. Every design piece is unique and one of a kind. We have everything from bikinis and jackets to pants and jeans. But our net dress, made by Anthony Ferrara in eighteen-carat gold, is in a class by itself. It was worn by Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex and the City, at a fashion event in New York. She was supposed to take it off right after the catwalk ended because of how expensive it was and for safety reasons. But she actually disappeared right after exiting the runway and went off to a party dressed in our gold dress. Luckily, the dress was returned to our office the morning after, packed in a brown paper bag. It will be on display at The Kristianstad Regional Museum in Sweden in a stand with bulletproof glass, among other pieces from our clothing collection, between April and August.

What can our readers look forward to in the upcoming LinkedIn series “Did you know?”

Stories and anecdotes that haven’t been told before. It will be everything from behind-the-scenes material from previous campaigns to tales dating back to the birth of Malibu and Kahlúa, and even as way back as our founder LO Smith’s childhood. The Absolut Company’s products all have their own unique, rich, and exciting histories. For example, Absolut Vodka has a strong connection both in Sweden and USA. Sweden is where the spirit originates from, but when we started to export to the USA in 1979, it was given a second life in conjunction with the branding. We have brands like no other, and now it’s time to shed light on their journeys.

Peafowl Plasmonics sheds light on the future of solar technology

Peafowl Plasmonics, offering groundbreaking sustainable energy solutions with their completely transparent solar cells, was recently named one of Sweden’s best startups for a second time by the technology magazine Ny Teknik. We talked to Jacinto Sá, Professor in Physical Chemistry at Uppsala University and Chief Science & Innovation Officer, as well as Co-Founder of Peafowl Plasmonics, on their solar cell technology and the future of climate innovation and renewable energy.

What makes Peafowl Plasmonics’ solar energy technology unique? 

The Peafowl cell is an ultra-transparent, light-harvesting cell and the first direct plasmonic solar cell. Our proprietary technology can absorb up to ten times more light than any other known material, using plasmonic nanoparticles as the active photovoltaic material. The downside is that the window to extract an electrical charge is small, so a few years ago, we began looking into strategies to extract the charge as quickly and efficiently as possible. We sent our results out for review, and the researcher thought we had forgotten to send him the material because it looked like a piece of glass.

The product’s transparency mesmerized people, so we started looking for devices and applications that might benefit from this level of transparency. This aspect is unique, but it also means that the material cannot produce a lot of power. Instead, our technology can be used for power generation, to help power anything you want to see through but not impact the aesthetics of, such as an e-paper. 

What are the key sustainable benefits of using your technology? Where do you envision yourselves making the most impact?

Our solar cell technology can be applied to anything with an e-paper display. For example, a sign, smartwatch, or Kindle, in order to provide a constant recharge, increase functionality, and prolong the usage of the devices while avoiding the annoyance of having to charge too often. 

Our proprietary technology can absorb up to ten times more light than any other known material, using plasmonic nanoparticles as the active photovoltaic material.

Another example is the Internet of Things. The current belief is that, at some point, we will have one trillion devices connected to the Internet of Things with sensors that monitor and control everything in society. At present, a coin battery generally powers these devices, and anything you multiply by one trillion is an enormous amount! But if you want good data, you have to measure often, which drains the battery fast, meaning that you have to replace it. The estimation is that 273 million batteries would need to be replaced daily. The Peafowl technology could reduce the number of single-use batteries tremendously. Our technology can also be utilized for indoor sensors that help measure and optimize the energy consumption of buildings, which can result in up to 50% energy savings. 

Can you share some thoughts on the future of climate innovation and renewable energy?

Energy is power, and whoever controls the energy we use holds the power. We cannot keep looking for a silver bullet to solve all our problems. In fact, oil was a silver bullet, so efficient that no other types of energy could compete, and look where we are today, struggling with our dependency on the oil industry. Going forward, we need multiple parallel solutions for our increasing need for energy so that one energy source does not control or dominate the energy supply. 

We can also make a big impact in managing and optimizing the energy we already have, which is a more direct and instant solution. We all need to take more responsibility for solving the climate crisis and reducing our energy consumption. We’ve solved major crises before, and we can do it again. There’s still time, and we’ve come far in just the past ten years with technological innovations, but at some point, technology won’t be able to solve our problems. However, I believe you can rally more people to make a change by giving them hope instead of despair when talking about our responsibilities and possible solutions. Martin Luther King didn’t inspire a social revolution by saying I have a nightmare; he said, I have a dream.

Is there anything new on the horizon you’d like to share?

We do not envision ourselves mass-producing solar power. Instead, we’re developing a recipe for companies to produce the Peafowl cell since we expect most companies implementing this technology to be large and would have problems relying on a small startup. We’re currently building a demo factory to demonstrate how to produce the Peafowl Plasmonics solar cells.

Absolut x Boiler Room celebrates inclusive nightlife culture through sonic and visual expressions

In 2019, Pernod Ricard entered a partnership with Boiler Room, the most influential brand in music-oriented youth culture with a global live stream and event platform. Together with several other brands across the portfolio, the ambition has been to create a unique festival concept that excites consumers within the evolving nightlife scene. We chatted with Anna Kohlin, Global Brand Manager in the Brand Creative team at The Absolut Company, to hear more about Absolut’s partnership with Boiler Room, the upcoming festival in Amsterdam, and how this project can serve as a platform for a new generation of DJ:s and VJ:s.

Why did Pernod Ricard initiate a partnership with Boiler Room?

There was a great opportunity for our portfolio of brands to come together to bring value to consumers through distinctive brand concepts and storytelling within this hybrid-festival and events space. For Absolut specifically, we were eager to work with Boiler Room to deliver creative and innovative program to this highly influential consumer group. That’s why we joined the Boiler Room X platform and shaped how it shows up with Absolut, where we can truly live our values and purpose to strive for a more open world. It’s a concept where we work with diverse communities worldwide to create unique experiences by highlighting both DJs and visual artists.

Women, queer and people of color are primarily underrepresented in the club and festival scene. We want to change that and build a platform where more artists can show their true talents, something that Boiler Room has always done.

Is the DJ and VJ scene too stereotypical?

Women, queer and people of color are primarily underrepresented in the club and festival scene. We want to change that and build a platform where more artists can show their true talents, something that Boiler Room has always done. Our concept includes working with DJs and VJs, as we see the combination of both artistic expressions as an important part of the culture. For example, we have collaborated with queer community Speilraum in Amsterdam that has curated our Boiler Room X stage with some amazing talent this weekend at the Boiler Room Festival.

What can the audience expect from the upcoming Boiler Room Festival in Amsterdam?

The sold out festival runs over three days from Nov 24-26th, at an exciting new venue with over 12,000 people attending. You will experience a wide range of music genres and sub-cultures coming together from the next generation of artists pushing the industry forward. For Absolut, we will have our stage on Saturday with a capacity for 2,500 people. The festival will be live-streamed during the weekend as well as broadcasted post event on Boiler Room’s website and their social media channels.

What’s in store next for the future of the partnership between Boiler Room and Absolut?

Our ambition for the coming year is to expand our impact through Boiler Room and collaborate with more interesting communities and emerging artists. Adding value by bringing local sounds and visual experiences to a global audience. We have four individual Absolut x Boiler Room events planned for 2023, with locations and timings finalized shortly. Stay tuned for what’s in store!